The Imperative of Self-Care for Divorcing Parents: Arranging Social Options During Holidays
A client of mine from some years ago, Mrs. X, chose a proactive stance in tackling her first Thanksgiving holiday alone after her divorce. Determined to not simmer in a sulk and drown herself in solitude with a bottle of dry Chardonnay, she chose to serve the impoverished instead. Ironically, by nourishing the needy in the St. Louis community with a holiday meal, Mrs. X (quite unintentionally) nourished her own necessity for social connection on this important holiday, as well.
Yet, the positive consequences of Mrs. X’s choice should come as no surprise. Research tells us time and again of the importance of social connections and meaningful relationships for our optimal well-being. That is precisely why the holidays tend to loom so large and are capable of casting such a daunting shadow. In fact, those bereft of meaningful contact with others are often the most vulnerable to experiencing feelings of isolation, depression, and even enforced alienation as so often accompanies divorcing parents.
Thus, Mrs. X triumphed by getting herself out of her small, circumspect, conventional apartment and placing herself into a larger social environment that was focused upon goodwill and community cooperation. After the holiday, she not only experienced relief in the passing of this first important holiday but contentment as well. She had successfully crossed a seemingly impossible hurdle with both grace and gratitude.
If you find yourself in a similar situation during holidays, helping the needy in a similar service capacity, as Mrs. X did, is not your only social option. Perhaps this is the year to drive across the state and join your former college roommate’s round table for turkey, dressing, and a long-overdue talk. Perhaps this is the year to get up early, fix yourself a stack of pumpkin spice pancakes, dust off your ice skates, and drive to Steinberg Skating Rink for the afternoon. The natural beauty of Forest Park– filled with skaters, bikers, and walkers –will invariably boost your spirits and still your mind. After skating and people watching for hours, upon returning home, all you will want to do is put on your pajamas, watch your favorite shows, and curl up on the edge of the sofa with a mug of cider. The night’s sleep will be a deep and satisfying one!
Or perhaps this is the year to attend a service at your place of worship and join the congregation in prayers. Upon returning home, light a specially purchased candle as a symbol of the many blessings that are, in fact, still in your life and, often, in your midst…if you choose to notice them!
Self-care during divorce is important, but especially during the holidays. It’s wise to proactively arrange social interactions during your holidays to keep yourself in a positive mindset and avoid strong feelings of loneliness.
For more resources about self-care during divorce, check out my book “7 Secrets from the Divorce Whisperer: Saving Yourself, Your Money, and Your Children During Divorce,” which is available for purchase on Amazon.